BUZZARDS BAY — The owners of a wind turbine project planned for a cranberry farm in Plymouth are still asking the blessing of Bourne officials to truck the turbines along town roads, even as the Board of Health grapples with potential health risks from the project.
The Future Generation Wind project will be fully constructed in Plymouth, but because of the size of its parts, they'll be unable to be transported on highways, Bourne Board of Selectmen Chair Stephen Mealy said Thursday. The project would require about 24 oversized trucks to carry parts as large as 170 feet long, over 15 feet wide and almost 16 feet tall. Potential routes include Main Street and Head of the Bay Road.
About 80 feet of guardrail on Head of the Bay Road would need to be removed, Mealy said, so the trucks can navigate the road to the entrance of the farm in Buzzards Bay. All of the turbines would be built farther north in Plymouth.
When Future Generation Wind came before selectmen in July, the board had two options: an easement or a license, Mealy said. Town counsel advised the board to require a license. An easement would have to go to town meeting, Mealy said.
At Tuesday's selectmen’s meeting, the board continued the conversation about the licens and weighed what conditions it would require for the work. At their Sept. 30 meeting, selectmen hope to finalize the conditions and vote on the license.
Future Wind Generation had agreed to most of the possible conditions, such as paying for the removal and replacement of the guardrails, along with roadwork, but were still discussing bond amounts, which could be upwards of $1 million, Mealy said.
Head of the Bay is a historic road, where trees and stone walls along the road are protected. This could mean the town tree warden would have to approve of the turbine’s transportation route, and if he rejected it, it would need to go before the planning board, Mealy said.
But the planning board and tree warden aren’t the only other representatives of the town government that Future Wind Generation has to deal with.
On Wednesday night, Future Generation Wind’s lawyer Jonathan Fitch appeared before the Board of Health, telling board members that he wanted to “be a good neighbor.” The board requested Fitch apply for a variance, because the project would not fit Bourne’s Wind Energy Conversion System regulations.
About five properties and three homes could be affected by the turbines once they are operational, Fitch said, adding the possibility of giving the turbines' specifications to the board and extending a complaint protocol to Bourne residents.
But the turbines would not have to adhere to Bourne’s regulations because the turbines aren't located in Bourne, Fitch said.
“I don’t want to dance around this,” he said. “I’m a lawyer. I looked into this. I don’t see where you have jurisdiction.”
The applicable section of the town’s regulations reads: “No person shall construct or install a WECS (Wind Energy Conversion Systems) in the Town of Bourne unless in compliance with these Regulations.” But because the turbines could affect Bourne citizens' health even if they're in Plymouth, the Board of Health felt the turbines should come under its purview.
Fitch, who told the board he didn't plan to apply for a variance, asked chairwoman Kathy Peterson if he could return to the next meeting to keep the dialogue with the board going.
“We can always make room on our agenda for a variance,” she said.